Guardianship

There may come a time in your life when someone you love or care about needs a court appointed guardian to help assist and care for their person and/or  property.

A Guardianship is a legal proceeding in which a guardian is appointed to exercise the legal rights of an incapacitated person, a minor or an adult with mental, physical or developmental disabilities.

Incapacitated Person is a person (the “ward”) who has been judicially determined to lack capacity to manage at least some of his/her property, or to meet at least some essential health and safety requirements.

There are several types of guardianships:

Limited Guardianship recognizes that an  incapacity of each person is different and permits a guardianship only to the extent required by an individual’s actual mental and functional limitations.

Plenary Guardianship is when the person is incapable of performing all of the tasks needed to care for his/her self or property.  The court will grant the guardian total vs. limited authority to exercise all delegable legal rights and powers of the ward.

Guardian of a Minor:  To ensure for the welfare of a minor, when the natural parents are deceased or are unable to care for a child.

Guardian of a Minor’s Claims:  When a minor has received a monetary amount in excess of $15,000.00 resulting from a wrongful death claim, personal injury settlement, inheritance, life insurance policy, a guardianship must be established, (even for the natural guardian).  The money is normally put in to a restricted account and the Guardian must keep detailed records of this money.

Preneed Guardian for an Adult or Minor:  A person named in a written declaration to serve as a guardian in the event of the incapacity of the declarant.  Parents may nominate a preneed guardian for their minor children to act in the event of their incapacity or demise.

Guardian Advocate:  A Guardian Advocate may be appointed without an adjudication of incapacity, for a person with a developmental disability, and will be given the authority needed to act in the best interest of the developmentally disabled person.

Voluntary Guardian:  A person who is mentally competent but for reason of age or infirmity needs assistance in managing some or all of his or her property, may petition the court to establish a voluntary guardianship of the property.

Who May Serve as a Guardian?

Any adult resident (must not have a felony conviction) who is capable of carrying out the duties of a Guardian can be appointed.  A close relative of the Ward who does not live in Florida may also serve as Guardian.  Additionally, a professional Guardian, licensed and bonded by the State of Florida may also be appointed as Guardian. A bank trust department may be appointed to serve as Guardian of property only.

What Does a Guardian Do?

A Guardian of property must safeguard the Ward’s funds and use it solely for the benefit of the Ward.  In certain circumstances, the Guardian must petition the Court for approval to conduct certain business transactions.

A Guardian of the person is responsible for making decisions which will affect the health, safety and welfare of the Ward.  These decisions relate to medical, mental and personal care services of the Ward.  The Guardian decides which residential setting is best for the needs of the Ward and also seeks out the best social environment for the Ward.

Is a Guardian Accountable?

Yes, Guardians are accountable to the Court, and must be represented by an Attorney.  In some circumstances the Court will require the Guardian to take out a bond and/or attend a court-approved guardianship training class.  An annual report related to the Ward’s living and health situation, and an annual inventory of the Ward’s property, must be filed with, and approved by the Court

Temporary Custody of a Minor Child By Extended Family Member:  Allows a family member who is not the legal parent or legal guardian, but is caring for a minor, to obtain legal custody of the minor, with the authority to act in the best interest of that minor child or teenager.

When the legal parent(s) are unable to care for their children, this is the time when a close relative must step in to care for the child.  Reasons for obtaining legal custody may include registering a child for school, seeking medical treatment, having the legal authority to access a child’s educational, medical or social security records.    The Law Office of Patricia H. Davis is sensitive to the complex issues which may lead a close family member to have to take temporary legal custody of a minor. We understand that family dynamics can be complicated and provide the legal guidance and support for an extended family member to care for and act in the best interest of a minor child, until such time as circumstances have changed, and the legal parent is once again able to care for their child(ren).

To schedule a consultation to learn more about a Guardianship or Temporary Custody of a Minor Child, Contact Guardianship Attorney Patricia H. Davis, at 904.614-3670 or pdavis@jaxlawattorney.com today.